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What a couple married 66 years can tell us about Super Bowl Sunday

From sports — otherwise known as the newspaper's 'toy' department — comes a story about a jewel of a couple, Placentia's Paul and Maxine McGhehey, who make toys, bring joy and have been married since they were teenagers.

January 29, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Maxine and Paul McGhehey, who have been married for 66 years, have breakfast at a familiar spot, Mini Gourmet Restaurant in Placentia, where they've been going for nearly 45 years.
Maxine and Paul McGhehey, who have been married for 66 years, have breakfast… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

I've always been fascinated by people who like their own family. I just take for granted they haven't spent much time with them.

Our whole family is getting together next week to watch the Super Bowl. Most of them are nice enough, but they will all want to talk to each other, and while the game is going on.

The 7-Eleven Kid will be talking to her imaginary friends, the twins will be banging on drums, and everyone will think they are so cute. It'll be horrible.

I mention this because every morning that I go to breakfast I see the same two old people. I overheard them the other day saying they were going to get together with their family this Sunday and next Sunday, and do so every Monday for dinner.

Amazing, but they didn't look the worse for wear. And they seemed to get along so well. I took them for newlyweds, the fourth marriage maybe for her because she was doing all the talking and maybe the third for him.

Well, they're married, all right. For 66 years. To each other. Paul & Maxine McGhehey.

"I've loved the same man since I was 15," says Maxine.

"We met in ninth grade," Paul says. "We got married later when I got a 10-day pass from Ft. Bliss. Then I got a 10-day extension because I got married."

It finally dawns on Maxine, "Did you marry me because of the 10-day extension?"

It's Saturday morning at the Mini Gourmet in Placentia and not all that different from Friday morning at the Mini Gourmet or Thursday. The walls are decorated with Dodgers memorabilia, but they are here for two reasons: 1) the cook, and 2) to get out of the house.

"Sometimes we think if we didn't have doctor appointments, we'd have no social life," says Maxine.

"It's not good to sit around all day in your pajamas," says Paul.

But what's the secret to such a long-lasting union?

"We like each other," says Maxine. "Loving someone is one thing, liking them is another."

"I keep my mouth shut," says Paul.

Their first date was a two-mile walk into Santa Ana, 25 cents for a movie and then 10-cent malts.

"First malt I ever had," Maxine says.

"Can't remember the name of the movie," Paul says. "I probably wasn't paying any attention to it."

They didn't have much money early on, so most of the time they would just go to the garage and dance to Glenn Miller records. The McCourts, of course, come to mind.

"When we got married we were 18 and 19 and some people said it would never last," says Maxine, who is now 85. "Ha, ha."

"All those people are dead," says Paul, who is 86.

Paul doesn't see himself, though, as being old. "The Lakers are old," he says after watching Friday night's game. "They don't get back."

"He talks to the TV," says Maxine.

"Well, they don't get back," says Paul.

But what could two people, married so long, possibly have left to say to each other over breakfast every morning?

"We were just talking about our son getting ready to turn 64," says Maxine.

"Our baby," says Paul. "I catch myself every once in awhile calling him 'Honey.' I try not to — but it just comes out."

Paul suffered a stroke six years ago. He's blind in his left eye and his left hand doesn't always do what he wants it to do. But it doesn't stop him from making wooden toys — logging trucks, trains — and jewelry boxes. He gives them to the children of battered women and youngsters who are ill.

"When a child doesn't make it, they put a lock of hair in the jewelry box for the mother," he says.

A very proud Maxine says of her husband, "Tell him about the plaques you've gotten for making toys."

Her husband is the same guy who worked most of his life as a construction foreman, up every day at 4 a.m. and building many of the roads now being used in Orange County.

"I loved my job and couldn't wait to get up and do it," he says.

They have four children. "I gave him two boys," Maxine says, "So I told him to get some girls. We have two girls — they were sisters and we adopted them."

They also have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

"It's nice to live long enough to see how everyone turns out," says Paul.

They will all be together for the Super Bowl, and a note to the Placentia police: They will be gambling.

"The daughter will be selling $2, $5 and $10 squares for the game and we'll have to get in on them all," says Paul.

"I pick the squares," says Maxine. "He gives the money."

"If she wins, she gets the money," says Paul, explaining how one really keeps a marriage together for 66 years.

Maxine notices the notes being taken. "What's any of this got to do with sports?" she wants to know. Some e-mailers will be asking the same thing.

But once in a while it's just nice to chat with folks who have really accomplished something.

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